Cast the first stone anyone who has never kneaded (at least their first time ever ...) with the penem canis
, unloading a whole 25 grams cube of brewer's yeast in half a kilo of flour, as if he had had to leaven the bowl too ... And after a couple of hours (miracle!) find yourself munching with difficulty on the biscuity or chewy result wondering why he didn't even remotely remember a pizza ...
The "problem" is that, as already more fully explained regarding the phantom autolysis
, if leavening occurs more quickly than protein synthesis
, that dough loses edibility and becomes more suitable for alternative uses, for example as glue ...
is not the only chemical and microbiological process that takes place in a dough but it is certainly among the most important. And if on the threshold of the "second phase" of the lockdown
because of the covid-19, it is even easier to find the famous needle in the haystack (to then pass a camel in its eye) than the yeast of fresh beer in the fridge department of a supermarket I did this: flour, water (60% of the flour), a crumb of brewer's yeast that I had frozen for some time and many greetings to the moms-sandwiches who hoarded tons of brewer's yeast. Basically I'm growing the saccharomyces cerevisiae
in a sort of sourdough, which here in Sicily came from the grandparents called criscenti
. It works, but it's not the mother yeast
. Or maybe yes? What is mother yeast?
Theoretically it is a mixture of water and flour contaminated "spontaneously" by the endogenous yeasts of the flour. In fact, the environment in which you "work" (including laborious hands) involuntarily brings exogenous yeasts. Each refreshment (i.e. the addition of nutrients, in this case water and flour, generally to restore the original quantity) introduces unpredictable variables in the dough, promoting or disadvantaging the survival of certain species of yeasts and bacteria. Given the hectic metabolic activity of those who live in it, growing mother yeast makes sense if you plan to use it regularly (for example, at least a couple of times a week).
The role of yeasts
Yeasts are fungi ( phylum ascomycota
) which, between 4 and 45 degrees Celsius (more rapidly between 20 and 30 degrees), initiate metabolic processes (i.e. they eat, reproduce and die). The fact that the saccharomyces cerevisiae
(i.e. the very common beer yeast) is able to duplicate itself no earlier than an hour and a half from the start of the metabolic activity, makes those recipes in which times are maintained implausible leavening time under an hour and a half ...
The metabolizing action of the yeasts is facilitated by hydrolysis
(activated by contact with the water of the amylases and by the diastases, enzymes present in the flour) which breaks up the most complex starch molecules (which is a polysaccharide carbohydrate) in simpler monosaccharides (e.g. glucose and fructose) and disaccharides (e.g. maltose, sucrose and lactose). Yeasts, in particular saccharomyces cerevisiae, are able to survive both in the aerobic environment, by "breathing" oxygen, and in the anaerobic environment. Following the rapid depletion of oxygen present in the dough, the activity of the yeasts begins to convert into fermentation
(in the case of saccharomyces cerevisiae, alcoholic) metabolic mode by which the yeasts obtain energy from organic molecules in an anaerobic environment. The sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides) are split from the yeasts first in pyruvic acid
and then, partially, in ethanol
. The remaining part of pyruvic acid, oxidized by the few oxygen molecules left in the dough, is transformed into carbon dioxide
. The leavening
, i.e. the swelling of the dough, is due to the storage of ethanol and carbon dioxide between the glutinic mesh of the dough.
The ethanol present in the dough will then evaporate during cooking.
The role of bacteria
A balanced dough hosts, in a hundred times higher quantity than yeasts
, bacteria, in particular lactobacilli
. The metabolic activity of bacteria occurs in an essentially anaerobic environment: it proceeds through the fermentation (in the specific case of lactobacilli, lactic fermentation
and non-alcoholic as for yeasts) of monosaccharides and oxidized disaccharides, generating lactic acid and acetic. The synthesis of these acids causes the acidification of the dough
, making it (within a certain limit) tastier.
However, the presence of lactic acid in the dough makes the glutinic mesh more elastic, the presence of acetic acid helps to improve the flavor of the dough and both come into play, together with the sugars, in the Maillard reaction (i.e. the creation of the crust, during cooking, which takes place between 140 and 180 degrees Celsius): their complete synthesis is therefore not desirable.
Keep in mind that very hydrated doughs, long "leavening" times (between 24 and 48 hours) and high temperatures (between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius) favor the development of lactobacilli at the expense of yeasts, therefore a more important production of acid lactic compared to acetic acid. Less hydrated and "leavened" doughs at relatively low temperatures (between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius) instead favor the growth of yeasts and the predominance of lactobacilli forced heterofermentative
, which instead leads to a higher presence of acid acetic.
The metabolism of bacteria is slowed down by a percentage of salt higher than 1.5 of the total weight of the dough; it is instead facilitated by the presence of oxygen. Another function of lactic bacteria is proteolysis
which brings greater digestibility to proteins (but also, consequently, a weakening of gluten). Difference between mother yeast, "criscenti" and beer yeast
Saccharomyces cerevisiae not only can naturally already be present in the flour, in the environment and in the operator's own hands but is present on the surface of many fruits including, in particular, grapes. The idea of ??stimulating the fermentation of the dough through fruit or bran increases the possibility of increasing its presence. In other words, only in a totally and permanently aseptic environment, through a careful selection of ingredients and the triggering of a specific yeast culture, could it be possible to completely exclude saccharomyces cerevisiae from the mother yeast. In mother yeast (or natural yeast or sourdough) both lactic and alcoholic fermentation takes place and not exclusively lactic fermentation as mistakenly led to believe to distinguish it from beer yeast. In the criscenti (or carry-over paste), a higher presence of saccharomyces cerevisiae than the sourdough, i.e. immediately after it has been specifically inoculated, is conceivable. However, since the criscenti is also composed of water and flour, the presence of lactobacilli is physiological . Already from the first refreshment which, as we said, is nothing more than the addition of nutrients, that is water and flour, the microbial flora of the mother yeast is distorted
. It follows that no mother yeast can be considered the same as another, although made with the same ingredients, at the same exact moment but in different environments. It follows that potentially, after for example a month, the original balance between species of fungi and bacteria can be radically distorted and that new species may have been brought in by the refreshments. Therefore, what objective parameter should we refer to in order to distinguish sourdough from "criscenti"? The only certainty is that the acidic environment reduces the possibility of contamination by non-acidophilic fungal and bacterial species, that is, most of the species pathogenic to humans. Neither the mother yeast nor the criscenti are isolated and isolable systems
. Talking about the longevity of a mother yeast is a logical nonsense since the entire "population" of bacteria and yeasts changes almost completely within a couple of months.
Another goes for the fresh beer yeast
which is nothing more than a colony of saccharomyces cerevisiae, generated by the fermentation of the molasses
(liquid obtained by centrifuging the sugar beet) with barley malt. The difference between fresh brewer's yeast and dried brewer's yeast is that in the latter the enzymes (in a nutshell, the substances that allow the yeasts to proceed metabolically by fermentation, therefore to let the dough rise) are reactivated only at contact with water.
In order to obtain a good dough, it is essential to keep in mind that its maturation
(which we informally distinguish from the leavening
since the latter would strictly concern the exclusive action of the yeasts) relates to the metabolic processes of yeasts and bacteria: the imbalance of their action leads to dough defects which are most of the time irreversible. For example, adding a few grams of fresh brewer's yeast in a kilo of dough (instead of a whole dough) leaves space and time for the bacterial action, which we have seen to be equally important. Clearly, it will not be possible to knead in the late afternoon and bake in the same evening ... It is also true that the much advertised long leavening
can also be synonymous with products so one should wonder if it is worth turning on the oven ... complete synthesis of sugars involves first of all the failure of the Maillard reaction as well as compromising the flavor of the dough. In addition, the hyper-synthesis of proteins can, as already mentioned, weaken the strength and elasticity of the glutin mesh, which is essential for the development of the alveolation. I conclude by emphasizing that the honeycomb is not a mere stylistic or aesthetic choice but optimizes the heat diffusion in the dough during cooking, so that starch gelatinization takes place in the necessarily short time to obtain a good product.
BETWEEN CHRISTIAN'S LEAVES AND BRESSANINI'S SCIENCE
When we tell you that we take care of our blog regardless of the association with our professional activity, do not believe us because we would be stupidly lying. Obviously, without any passion, nothing interesting and credible can come out. But it is clear that if some casual reader, attracted by our content, also ends up intrigued by our business or simply distractedly sees our logo, it doesn't really make us sick ...
To conclude the "festival of the falsely secret obvious", it seems only right to remember that even those who curate a channel on youtube or a group on Facebook, if they offer original and quality content, have certainly taken hours, hours and hours of study and work to offer them anyway for free, and it is sacrosanct if he finally manages to repay at least the expenses or even to earn something with advertising and sponsorships. The only rule to be respected is...
ANCIENT GRAINS BETWEEN OLIVE OIL AND AUTOLYSIS
We are trying to completely abandon the use of non-Sicilian flours for our leavened products, not only for the pleasure of rediscovering those ancient grains that, regardless of the fashion of the moment, our grandparents really used, not only to distance themselves from those standardized flavors that we can now find everywhere, but also because the criteria of wheat production in Italy, unlike the overseas jurisdictions, severely limit the use of plant protection products whose effective harmlessness for man is yet to be proven.
Even if so far we have been supplied by Italian and Sicilian mills, it is obvious that particular strong flours cannot be entirely derived from wheat grown in the Bel Paese, simply due to statistical improbability (given that production in Italian territory of soft wheat covers only 30% of the national needs) and because, for climatic reasons, few areas...
FROM CROCODILE IN NEW YORK SEWERS TO BURNING BLUE IRON TRAYS
If, like us at Agricamping Sophia, you are fond of pizzas in the pan and focaccia, you have certainly received the news or have accidentally read the miraculous cooking skills of the legendary blue iron trays . Out of curiosity, also thanks to the lockdown due to the Covid-19, we purchased a couple, for private use, from different manufacturers. Being aware, through the attendance of specialized forums and the reading of a myriad of articles on the net, of the mysterious burning which should be a preliminary operation necessary to give the green light to their use, we are here uncritically lavished in following to the letter one of the guides found among the first results of Google.
The outcome? A lot of smoke, the smell of burnt oil throughout the house and two apparently ruined trays. Immediately consulted the forums we mentioned, the diagnosis is that we would probably have used...
FOCACCISM PHENOMENOLOGY: AUTOLYSIS OR POOLISH?
Brutally skip preambles and introduction, if you miss it, read the previous phenomenological examination concerning poolish, biga and proof .
The aim is, sic et simpliciter, to try to understand, through empirical tests, what are the best ways to enjoy one of the most welcome gifts that mother nature and human ingenuity have made us: the focaccia!
What is poolish? It is a preferment prepared with equal parts of water and flour and a minimum amount (as far as I am concerned) of yeast, better if stuffed in the refrigerator ( obviously in a bowl ...), so much the yeasts are active even between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius, for 16 hours (if at room temperature, for much less time but the final quality of the poolish will also be different). The rule of leavened products always applies: if you are in a hurry, the crepes (crepes, for the Francophiles) are prepared in much less time ......
TORRE FANO: FOR 2500 YEARS THE SHOULDERS HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT US FROM THE PIRATES
When and why it was built
We know that in 1526 Torre Fano was partially destroyed by the barbarian corsair Dragut (actually admiral of the Ottoman fleet, viceroy of Algiers, lord of Tripoli and Mahdia), habitual of looting and raiding on the Sicilian coasts. The phenomenon of barbaresca piracy (from Barberia, that is the name with which the Europeans from the Middle Ages defined the African Maghreb, inhabited precisely by the Berbers), politically connected to the Ottoman Empire, between the 14th and 19th centuries it was a real scourge for the development of the Sicilian coasts. The barbarian corsairs did not limit themselves exclusively to boarding and raiding ships but were also protagonists of the deportation and enslavement of thousands of Sicilians (for example, in Lipari, in 1544, 9000 people were deported), for them a significant source of income (a young European slave could...
THE PORT OF ELORO
We have already spoken extensively about Eloro here and here. It is no secret that he considers it
among the most fascinating places in the
district and when I have the opportunity, for example to act as a guide to
some friends, I go there with pleasure. Just during one of my last walks along
the "path" that "connects" the beach of Eloro with the
Pizzuta beach, I had the opportunity to focus on some rock formations that,
given their particular shape, have always aroused my curiosity, suggesting not
only that they had nothing natural (and therefore they were linked to the
archaeological remains abandoned behind the fence) but also that that stretch
of jagged coast, between the two splendid sandy beaches, in the past had to present itself in a radically different way.However, I have a duty to clarify that walking that "path" (which I
am not by chance writing in quotation marks,...